In the first segment about Carlos he talked about the importance of forgiving your ex AND yourself after divorce and I agreed that it is key to finding that inner calm and happiness. I think forgiveness is a process, it takes time. It’s not like getting a new job or buying a car which you can cross of the to do list and say that’s done. Realizing what it is that needs to be forgiven also takes time. For me, forgiveness always seems to have a heavy dose of religion with it – not sure why I think of it like that but it’s been problematic for me since I don’t follow a specific religion. So I asked Carlos what practices helped him discover complete forgiveness and if his faith was part of it. Here’s Carlos:
My faith definitely played a huge part in being able to forgive my ex. My relationship with Jesus Christ, because I am a Christian, really allowed me to be introspective towards what it is that I needed to do to forgive her, and also to realize that if I was going to be who I said I was going to be as a man of faith, that forgiveness had to be a part of that. Part of that process was understanding that hurting people hurt people. My ex wife and I came from totally different backgrounds and I had to realize how our different backgrounds played into the fact that we were no longer husband and wife and just realize and accept that and then move forward.
Acceptance is definitely a major component of forgiveness…accepting the fact that the situation has happened. There’s really no healing in denial. I think a lot of people want to deny the fact that it happened, deny the fact that they’re hurting. You have to accept the fact that the situation happened and you have to accept the fact that it happened the way it did, and you really had no control over that. The only thing you have control over is yourself. Then you can move forward through the healing process so that you’re not constantly looking back and becoming angry about the situation all over again. Those were the types of steps that I had to take myself through.
I started journaling every day, which helped me to process a lot of feelings that I was going through. I also went to a divorce recovery group to help get some of those feelings out in a group session, and I was active in my church. All of these helped me to process my feelings and get them out in the open.
I believe that men for the most part, of course not every man, but I believe that men hold onto un-forgiveness a lot longer than women. I think that for men, their way of venting that un-forgiveness is to have a string of other relationships with women where they’re determined to hurt them because of the pain that they’ve been through.
One thing I learned from my last boss that I worked for, he said “whenever there is a conflict, realize that both people bring something to the conflict.” I think a lot of times, it’s so easy to point the finger at the other person or point the finger at everything that someone else did wrong and never stop and say,
“What did I bring to this situation? What did I bring to the table?”
So I had to be very introspective and think, “what was it that I was bringing to the table, what was it that I was not seeing, was I too tunnel-visioned, was I not hearing what it was that she was saying, was I not hearing her cries for attention or her cries saying ‘listen, I’m not really on the same page as you in this area’, was I just so tunnel-visioned and blinded that I didn’t see that?” I had to ask myself those hard questions and get those hard answers and be able to be truthful with myself so that I can be healed and be whole and move forward.
Over the years, there are still the holidays that happen, there are still different situations that pop up with our sons living in two different households and she and I looking at life from different perspectives, but as the years have gone on, it has become easier and easier to do. Again, as I take myself through the process of accepting the fact that the situation is what it is and all I can do is all that I can do, and all I can do is be consistent for my sons and make sure that I’m the best role model that I can be. It is indeed a process that took a couple of years to get to the place that I’m sharing with you now.
The Divorce Coach Says
This is such an important message – I love how Carlos says that he had to forgive so he could be the person he said wanted to be. I don’t think we realize that when we harbor resentment, either to others or ourselves, we’re holding ourselves back.
And I agree you can’t forgive without being truthful and you’ll know if you haven’t been truthful with yourself. Being truthful takes courage and that’s why journaling is a great way of working to forgiveness. It’s private and even if you do it online as a blog you can use a pseudonym. It doesn’t get graded, the spelling doesn’t matter, the flow doesn’t matter, what matters is that it helps you acknowledge your pain, your actions and to accept it. It’s not about judging yourself or your ex either. It’s not about blaming. It’s about understanding.
So what specific practices have helped you grant forgiveness? Did you need your ex to ask for forgiveness or say he/she was sorry before you were able to completely forgive? If he or she hasn’t apologized or acknowledged the hurt, has that stopped you from forgiving them? How do you get over that?
Photo credit: Rita H Cobbs